This is our second Saturday market with quite a solid harvest, both selection and quantity. Last week was fine, this week we’ve added the first of the fall spinach, also, an unexpected bushel of radish that sized up practically overnight, picked at the end of the day yesterday at the perfect maturity moment. For the record, we have: green onion (Ramrod), two kales (Red Russian, Nero di Toscana), green and yellow beans (Jade, Indy Gold), two carrots (Nelson, Touchon, mixed), radish (Rebel), cherry tomatoes (a mix of 7-8 varieties, hybrid and heirloom), Asian greens mix (mustards, mizuna, tatsoi, etc, our custom blend!), arugula, Swiss chard (Lucullus, a pale green heirloom), beet (Kestrel), salad mix (four varieties of lettuce), summer squash (Golden Dawn III, Baby Tiger and Raven zucchinis), cucumber (Fanfare and a few round heirloom Lemon), and spinach (Bloomsdale). For those who like lists!
Friday’s harvest to Saturday’s market is the way it is! We still go direct from field to stand, with no cooler in between, and that seems to work out. And the stand itself hasn’t changed much in the last few seasons: raw cedar bins on boards on sawhorses, baskets up front, under the 10’x10′ E-Z UP canopy. What’s new is our latest in DIY veggie sign technology: the usual cards printed in marker with description and price, but now mounted with tape on long, thin coffee stir sticks, stuck right in with the produce. Anyhow, good weather, a decent turnout, a fine morning all round!
Often heard about, never before seen first-hand, this is front-yard tiny farming in action—late fall edition. I’m at the home of Andrew and Sue and Margo, in a town of 70,000, leaning on the front porch rail on a residential street lined with single homes on small lots. Typical front lawns all along. Except here, where the grass is gone, replaced by an eclectic collection of veggies and herbs. Beets, carrots, tomatoes, corn and several other crops are already gone for the season. Still up and struggling along in the cold, there’s colorful Swiss chard in a couple of spots, parsley and sage, and a few other things that need a closer look to ID. Andrew also mentioned native edibles, like ostrich fern (fiddleheads), wild ginger and wild leek. And more. The keyhole path set-up comes from permaculture methods: minimum path for maximum access to the growing area. It’s a front-yard revolution! After a season or two of sidewalk-side veggie abundance for all to see, I wonder if this alternate land use will start to spread up and down the street! Urban agriculture. Pretty cool!
As a friendly reminder that the weather hasn’t gone entirely haywire, the nights have been cold lately, freezing or below, and some days begin with a reassuring blanket of frost on the field. Here, the Swiss chard (it’s trusty Fordhook Giant) is moments before melt-off in the morning sun. The chard can take a freezing and keep on tasting great. In fact, so can the rest of what’s out there: there’s still lots of spinach, kale, cauliflower, collards, plus beets and carrots safely in the ground. People are dropping by daily to get a last bit of whatever there is, so it all works out!
On her last day of a week that flew by, Mami, WWOOFing from Japan, works to rejuvenate a bed of Swiss chard battered by the drought. Despite a fairly formidable language barrier, there was much conversation and laughter about life, times, Hollywood movies, smoking laser printers, the apparently grave state of the world…the usual field chatting fare! For no one reason I can put a finger on, it was an energizing bit of cultural exchange, and a lot of extra fieldwork got done as well. Through this blog, tiny farming has become for me kinda…transnational, and Mami’s visit made that feeling even more real (the ClustrMap comes alive!). It’s really all about People in the Field!!